Monday, October 31, 2016

A new era of hockey begins with a bang at the gate

 By Zachary Baru

There is something special happening in Downtown Springfield.

A new franchise, on a newly named street, and a rejuvenated fan base.  The Springfield Thunderbirds, on the corner of Bruce Landon Way and Main, have brought more than professional hockey back to the City of Springfield - the excitement is back, and as big as this city has seen in a long, long time.

It all begin with a packed house on opening night at the MassMutual Center.  October 22 marked the beginning of a new era of hockey in Springfield, and the passionate hockey faithful ensured a sellout crowd of 6,793. 

It was loud, energetic, and most of all, positive.  Springfield fans were glad to have the American Hockey League back in the city it belongs in, a city where it has been since 1926. The mood was upbeat, the crowd was thrilled, and the action could not have been better. A 5-4 overtime win for the Thunderbirds in their first home game, as the fans enjoyed a first-hand look at a new beginning in Springfield hockey. 

The story does not end there.  In previous seasons, big crowds in Springfield hockey are typically followed by less then average attendance at the next game.  Such was not the case with the Thunderbirds and their fans, as the second and third home games drew 4,764 and 6,157 fans consecutively this past Friday and Saturday.

Springfield, hockey is back.  And it is better than ever. A solid, committed ownership group, dedicated front office reaching out to the community in ways never tried before, a passionate fan base, and a city that once again, is loving, and supporting hockey.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at  Zach also writes for

A note regarding my involvement in the Springfield Sting

Since the beginning of this blog in 2012, my intent has always been, and will always be, to write unbiased and informative articles about sports business in Western Massachusetts.

In May 2016, I founded the Springfield Sting, an expansion franchise of the American Basketball Association. As the Founder/Owner of the Sting, my promise to readers will be to continue an unbiased look at the business side of sports here in the Western region of the state.

I very rarely, if ever, will write about the Sting, as this would be a conflict of interest in truly unbiased reporting.  My intent will never be to promote the Sting in any way, as my goal will always be to report about the off-the-field stories that make the sports and entertainment industry such a special and unique part of the local economy.

To all of the readers of Western Mass. Sports Biz, I sincerely thank you for reading and supporting this blog since 2012.  Here's to another great season of sports in our part of the state here in Western Mass. 

- Zach Baru